This January bathroom remodel in Woodstock, GA was for a local fire fighter and his family. It was a fun one from the start. I remember fielding this initial call while my wife was at the dermatologist and I was hanging out with my 15 month old daughter (at the time) in a Starbucks. It’s the perfect example of what we small business guys go through daily. Trying to keep the baby quiet, while attempting to help a potential customer and put off a good first impression, talking to them about how these bathrooms “are just not possible for $10k.” Sometimes the most uncomfortable sales calls are the ones we book. I’m not sure why, I like to lean towards the fact that it shows a certain vulnerability and authenticity. I remember sending David a copy of one of our bids that was similar to the bathroom he wanted and saying, “Start adding up the lines, all the stuff adds up quick!” Can’t really get more transparent than that! I was just trying to show the amount of resources that go into these things!
These people were great because they had been readers of my blog and found it really useful, so they had a basic knowledge of who we were and how we worked. In hindsight, they followed our process to a T. They shopped at Tile House, bought high end plumbing fixtures from Ferguson’s, and allowed us to run our tried and true system. That’s the way to do it, don’t reinvent the wheel, trust the experts and let’s collaborate. I put a lot of time into building trust through this site and portraying the reality of Jason’s authority in this field. It helps us to relieve the inevitable anxiety of a bathroom remodel. Who would you rather hire? A company with the content to back up everything they are saying or some anonymous mystery man in a white van?
Below we have our before and after display. The before had a very small shower that was not operating as it should. It was an old ‘mud job’ and they are extremely good at hiding water damage. Lucky for us, David wanted to save some money, so he did the tear out himself. I’m sure it was a brutal one! I gained a bunch of admiration for his fortitude when I walked in and saw it complete! The trick here was increasing the size of the shower and being able to fit the new free standing tub at the same time. Jason’s expertise was on full display here. Those free standing tubs can be very pricey but if you’re looking for a good return on investment when you sell your house, you almost need one!
We installed a 4”x12” white subway tile with white Kerdi profiles. If you’ve ever read my blog before, you know I’m in love with Kerdi profiles, look at these picture, you can tell why! This was a very high quality Interceramic subway tile with very little ‘cupping’ so the brick set pattern turned out impeccably. We installed a very high quality Prizm grout by Custom which dries hard and dense, with built in sealer, which is key if you want to keep it clean. If you’re having a bathroom done, make sure the tile installer pulls the trigger on a better grout, nothing worse than a cheap grout that under performs!
The floor tile was excellent as well. It was an 8”x36” Panaria wood plank tile. The variation in color shades is incredible and the glaze was very thick! An extremely high quality tile. What do I always say, “We are only as good as the tile we are provided with.” We were provided with a high end tile so they received a very high end floor.
I like to point out that when you are hiring a tile guy, you’re not just hiring someone to stick tile to a wall. In the photos above and below you can clearly see the level of destruction this leaking shower had brought upon this house. Jason’s greatest talent isn’t layout or his overall knowledge of tile, it’s the fact that he gets these spaces back to structural integrity. When you have a gaping hole in your floor, or walls without studs, the ‘tile guy’ hat needs to come off, and the framer/engineering hat needs to go on. Jason’s 20 year training and trade school knowledge ensures our customers get put back together solid. Now, if you hire simply a ‘tile installer’ to do this work, how well do you think all this will go back together?
During this job I had a musing on my Twitter account (@atileguysjourney) about how you know you did a good job when you spent more time prepping an area than you do on the actual tile install. Man, that couldn’t have been more true on this one! As you can see from the 5 star Google review from Jennifer, the planning and prepping at this job was immense! In fact, very few jobs we do involve just showing up and tiling. We traditionally inform our potential clients that the only mystery about these jobs is how much prep needs to go into the floor to get it flat enough to allow large format tile, and how much time and material has to go into rebuilding the floors and walls. Ask your installer if he’s willing to go backwards in order to produce a lasting finish product.
Here we have our “flood test'“ in progress and Jason is working in tight quarters installing tile. Those green clips are the Lev-Tech leveling system that help us get a lip free floor. Using clips doesn’t mean we’re amateur tile installers, they are just tools like our wet saw is a tool. On this particular application it allowed us to actually bend some of the warp out of the tile. Try doing that without clips!
On this one we used Schluter Systems moisture management system that comes with an extensive factory warranty, not that it will ever be needed. The real advantage of this system is the weight relief on the home’s structure, because it is foam. Think about the weight involved in using cement. If you use a modern building system your house automatically gets stronger because you are lightening the load.
When we use tile with the amount of shade variation this tile had, we open all the boxes and pick from all of them as we are setting, to ensure a proper blending of the tile. We had limited space at this house, so it was a trick! We really appreciated the Millers’ patience while we were here. We do our best to limit the inconvenience, but I’m not going to lie, a bathroom remodel is quite a sacrifice for a while.
This floor had a considerable amount of variation in the substrate, meaning we would never be able to install huge tile like this. The biggest factor when installing big tile is having a nice, flat floor. So, we self leveled this floor with about 8 bags of Ardex Liquid Backerboard. Liquid Backerboard is a great product because you don’t have to use metal lathe. Check out my YouTube channel to see how we self level!
The reason we self level is so we can get thin set coverage like you see in the picture above. That’s what it’s supposed to look like. Collapsed thin set ridges, tile fully supported. You’d be surprised how few installers get coverage like this. We know because we tear out a bunch of mediocre work, but the point is, setting tile is a lot more than just spreading thin set and plopping it down. You have to WORK to get this kind of coverage and really know what you’re doing.
We all know about cracked grout in the corners of a shower. We’ve all seen it. There’s a simple fix and EVERY tile installer should know about it because it’s clearly written in the TCNA handbook (Tile Council of North America) and using silicone sealant in all plane changes is ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard. All houses move and if you use grout in your corners they will inevitably crack because grout is hard, it doesn’t allow for movement. When you use 100% silicone, it acts as a soft joint and allows for small amounts of movement, so 10 years from now that corner will look the same as it did when we left.
This silicone sealant is also color matched to the grout. I feel as if most guys skip this step because the silicone is hard to get, most places carry some “siliconized” latex junk, it also takes an extra degree of patience, as well as an extra trip. We don’t do it the day we grout because everything has to be dry for the silicone to stick properly. Yeah, doing things right costs more time, which is money. “Right” is not subjective. Right means, by the book.
We bought white curbs and made hard surface shelves for inside the extra large inset box. We locked these shelves into the tile for added strength. We were able to get the box nice and centered as well. Jason does really well with lay outs. Go ahead and zoom in!
“Is that corner bench strong?” We get that question all the time! Yes, it’s not just for looks…feel free to get on it and jump around! We build it out of 2” structural Kerdi foam and add a metal bar to add support. Penny rounds are very popular right now and they’re great for footing in a wet area.
Ultimately, the reason we do this is for happy clients. Would you say this is a magazine worthy bathroom? I particularly like the “built to last part”. She knows this because throughout the whole process they were involved in everything we did and we were sure to explain every aspect of this remodel. Once you see how we do things, live in person, you’ll really understand the difference between ‘value’ and ‘cost’.
Another master bathroom remodel blending looks, longevity and functionality in the books.
I love this photo because of the pink flowers and the lawn that is spot on! David had a great lawn, apparently maintained by his cousin, who deserves our praise!